If we were going to party like it was 1999, we'd have to start with Sorority Rush Week.
My college had four sororities on campus, three national and one local. I didn't know the difference at the time, but it became blatantly obvious the minute I started Rush Week.
The first group didn't like what I was wearing (little white sundress with blue flowers on it) and they made fun of me while I was still in the room. The second group asked what my dad did, if my mom worked, how much money we had, what my future career plans were. I clearly didn't meet their high monetary standards, and couldn't have afforded the dues if I wanted to. The third group didn't like that I was so involved with other organizations around the school. Theatre, student programming council, student government, Habitat for Humanity, Take Back the Night, and a whole slew of others. They also didn't like that I had a steady boyfriend for over a year. If I was going to party with them, I needed to be single and dedicate myself entirely to sorority happenings and not other clubs.
This feeling was all too familiar. I'd been a cheerleader for years, but when I switched to a different high school, I didn't make the team. I tried out for kickline instead, and after several grueling weeks of splits and kicks and learning routines, I was rejected from that squad too. I got heavily involved with theatre, but I wasn't selected for the Repertory Company or the Select Choir. My heart was broken a million times over for all the lofty dreams I'd set my sights on, never to reach them.
Funny how those memories creep up on you, a decade and a half later. Watching the cheerleaders on game day walking down the hall in their bright green pleated skirts, bouncing ponytails and sparkly eyeshadow elicits the same reaction as seeing them all these years later with their baby carriages and husbands in tow. This new sorority for a different age taunts me with all the things I'll never have, all the places I'll never go, all the secret handshakes I'll never be privy to. Those same friends who flaunted their shiny black and white saddle shoes now rub their smug motherhood in my face while I pine for my younger, more fertile days. How I wish to join their ranks, pledge that oath, drink the toxic elixir. What I'd give to ponder Baby Bjorn versus Ergo carriers, pushing my pram through Central Park, making my own organic baby food. How many times do they meet up at Gymboree or the playground, toting their little angels along with a cappuccino and a croissant, idling away the hours of innocent childhood and friendships forged.
I do not know the password to get into this party. I do not have a key to this club. I do know that I applied for membership for years on end, and every month the form would come back to me with a huge red sign saying REJECTED. I am not a mother now, nor do I know if or when I ever will be.
One by one, I watch my friends learn the secret handshake, drink the Kool-Aid, don the uniform, and join the sorority of Motherhood. Maybe I am wearing the wrong outfit. Maybe I don't have enough money. Maybe I don't know the right people. Maybe I didn't sell enough cookies, earn enough patches, memorize the motto. Maybe I didn't jump high enough, tumble fast enough, yell loud enough. Maybe there just aren't any spots left for a new girl to join. But maybe, just maybe, I'll try again next semester.